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Home Archived Newsletters Newsletter - June 26, 2009

Newsletter - June 26, 2009

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Saudi News

Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami

 

It's More than Election Rigging

Director’s Comment:

One can appreciate and understand the many formidable issues President Obama faces at home and abroad; however, if he continues ignoring or delaying the empowerment of Middle Eastern people, he will only strengthen the tyrannical regimes in the region. These regimes harbor institutions that conceive, hatch, incubate, nurture and export deadly religious ideologues, which in turn inflict havoc on other peoples, especially those who stand for and promote individual liberties, women’s rights, minorities’ rights and religious freedom.

Especially after the democratization of Iraq, democratizing Iran will make it impossible for the autocratic Arab dynasties around the Persian Gulf region to ignore their people’s cries for liberation from the yoke of tyranny. Stabilizing the Middle East under the rule of law, rather than the sword, is in the best interest of the Middle Eastern people as well as the international community, especially the US. Supporting the Iranian people’s yearning for freedom deserves US support because the alternative, ignoring the plight of the people, has already proven its futility in Iran and worldwide. Either we support democratic movements or we continue to embrace autocratic and theocratic despots whose policies, practices and institutions pose an ominous threat to their peoples and democracy everywhere.

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Consultants to Consultative

Director’s Comment:

To silence its critics at home and improve its image abroad, possibly in reaction to Kuwait’s election of four women to its semi-official parliament, the Saudi government has appointed four part-time women to advise the royally hand picked 150 male members of its Consultative Council. Members of the Council are appointed by royal decrees and are removed in the same manner. Some Council members are, in fact, removed when they become inquisitive as in the case of Dr. Zulfa. The Council has no powers; rather it reviews and rubber stamps the King’s decrees and proposals such as budgets. The King was careful that the four women who he appointed, not as members of the Council but as advisors to it, were all from well known families. They will not be allowed to mingle with men or discuss and approve the King’s proposals and other directives.

One can only hope that these women will not allow themselves to simply be used as tools to make the Saudi ruling family look better in the eyes of the international community. Moving past this superficial role may be difficult, because the Council itself holds no legislative powers. Its functions are limited to reviews, approvals and hosting foreign leaders who attend the Council’s Chamber to give speeches about their countries’ relations with Saudi Arabia. Prominent among its honored foreign guests was US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; who when asked how she felt to be in a Chamber where Saudi women are not even allowed to enter, she replied: “I am very pleased that after 200-plus years in the U.S. we finally have a speaker. It took us a long time.” Many Saudi women and men took this to mean support for the oppressive status of Saudi women.

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Support Elections, but for the Wrong Reasons

Director’s Comment:

The Saudi government prohibits all democratic freedoms including political parties, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, civil society, equality for women, equality for religious minorities and religious freedom. The autocratic regime considers these empowering values antithesis to God’s will. However, the Saudi government, the ruling family, spares no effort in utilizing and manipulating the democratic process in other countries to ensure control, or at least measurable influence, over the outcomes of their elections. Whether in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, the US or Yemen, the Saudi ruling family spends millions of dollars to create political, religious and economic schisms in elections abroad. The monarchy supports the weaker players not for the sake of fair democratic elections, rather to play one group against another to ensure promotion and protection of its interests regardless of the winner.

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Defying Self-appointed Autocratic Religious Theocracy

Director’s Comment:

The ongoing revolt against the oppressive theocratic regime in Iran is being enthusiastically observed by the mostly disenfranchised Arab people in the hope it will spill across the borders into its neighboring autocratically ruled Arab countries. At the same time, Arab ruling oligarchs are frantically trying to determine how the outcome of Iranian uprising will affect their shaky systems. Sunni Muslim Muftis (the highest religious authority) in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan and the Mullahs in Iran, Afghanistan and other places, are rethinking their fate as a result of what’s happening in Iran. These self-proclaimed religious leaders and power wielding clerics are worried about their control as a result of the courageous Iranian people’s loud expression of defiance against their illegitimate “supreme” Mullah, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

For the West not to support and take notice of what is happening in Iran is a self-defeating policy blunder for two major reasons. The men and women who subject themselves to ferocious police bullets are not doing it for fun, they want liberty. Not supporting those who yearn and are willing to pay the ultimate price for liberty in Iran, as well as in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will only strengthen the hands of the autocratic regimes and empower those who want to topple them and institute totalitarian religious systems.

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US Dances with Dictators

Director’s Comment:

The president of Pakistan, Ali Zardari, accuses his money and arms provider, the US for dancing with dictators. Interestingly, President Ali Zadari is selective of the dictators he blames the US for dancing with. A noticeably absent name of the dictators he listed is his other ally and financier, the absolute Saudi monarchy, who is responsible for the Wahhabization of Afghanistan and the people he is currently fighting in the Swat Valley. The Saudis are pouring money into his treasury, just like they do into the US treasury. It is reported that the Saudi government also provides President Ali Zardari’s regime with about ninety thousand barrels of free oil every day. I guess this assistance excludes the autocratic Saudi dynasty from the tyrannical club Zardari accuses the US of dancing with.

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Intolerance or Clash of Civilization

Director’s Comment:

Sarkozy can hardly be accused of being against Arabs and Muslims. He praised Islam and its contributions to human civilization profusely when he won the election. However, he realized, under heavy pressure from his people, that hiding women as if they are criminals is not only wrong, but could also lead to social, political and economic discordance in a democratic France. The resentment of Arab and Muslim cultures and religion has been rising steadily long before 9/11, and has intensified since.

The convoluted question that needs to be answered is: why would Muslims in Europe insist on maintaining traditions that most of them fled their homelands to avoid? Arabs and Muslims come to Europe to escape religious, social and political oppression. They have more freedoms and individual liberties in Europe and America, or in most parts of the world for that matter, than they could ever have in their countries of origin. The anti-Arab and Muslim cultural and religious sentiment in Europe and America is a process that could culminate in Samuel Huntington’s daunting prediction: Clash of Civilization. Nothing in the Arab or Muslim world is being done to counteract Huntington’s bleak prophesy

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Saudis Criticize the Intolerant French and other Europeans

Director’s Comment:

Under pressure from his people, the democratically elected President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has declared that the burqa, a disfiguring and scary looking black face covering, worn by some female Muslim immigrants, represents repression and the denigration of women and must therefore be rejected. The Saudis consider this move not only an insult to their tradition, but an attack on Islam. The Saudi government controlled media has accused the European state of religious intolerance, no freedom of choice and bigotry.

The Saudi attack on Europeans is most horrendous. Of all people on this planet, the Saudi government and its controlled media apologists should be the last to criticize anyone, even Communist China, for religious, political, social and ethnic intolerance. Unlike Europe and most parts of the world where Muslims can build mosques and schools and dress and worship anyway they wish, Saudi Arabia is the only country where non-Muslims are not allowed to practice their beliefs, display their religious symbols (such as the cross and Star of David among others) or bring their religious text books with them when they travel to the Kingdom. The Saudi court system is based on the Shariah, Muslim law, which not only discriminates against non-Muslims, but also Muslim minorities and women. In reality, the burqa has nothing to do with religion or even tradition for most Saudis. President Sarkozy is right, the burqa is a sign of oppression, enslavement of women and backwardness. It should be rejected everywhere, especially in Saudi Arabia, where most Muslims look toward for religious guidance.

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Wahhabization of Pakistan

Director’s Comment:

While reasonable people do not underestimate the formidability of the domestic and global issues that President Obama and his advisors face, many are becoming increasingly skeptical about the administration’s willingness to embrace autocratic regimes, such as the Saudi ruling family. Saudi money, institutions and polices are directly responsible for several of the crises facing America, especially the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. By all accounts, as elucidated in the attached article, the Saudi conceived, hatched and exported deadly ideology of Wahhabism is one of the most destabilizing global phenomena that America and its democratic allies face today. It cannot not be overlooked or defeated on the battlefield. Instead, Wahhabism has to be eradicated at its root if President Obama is to succeed in solving the challenges facing America and the world, including the liberation of the Saudi people from religious totalitarianism.

US-Saudi relations have been built on a shaky foundation since the inception of the Kingdom and, in most cases, determined by individuals and groups instead of national interests. Facts speak louder than exagerated and highly paid for words that simply promote the Saudi ruling family’s usefulness to American interests in the Arab and Muslim Worlds and on the global stage. All the administration needs to do is a quick Google search to find a plethora of Saudi created and financed institutions and groups that preach hate and inflict death and destruction on non-Muslims (infidels) and Muslims who do not adhere to the austere Wahhabi doctrine.

Insurgencies, religious friction and turmoil in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Bosnia, Nigeria, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Denmark, and now in some regions in the US, can be traced back to direct and indirect Saudi influence. Wahhabism, is not going to go away easily, because it is the only source of legitimacy for the Saudi ruling dynasty. Not only does the Saudi ruling family rely on the adherents of Wahhabism for its legitimacy, but also for its survival. As stated by one of Wahhabism’s staunchest supporters and practitioners, Saudi Interior Minister and likely the next king of Saudi Arabia, Prince Naif: “The Kingdom is an Islamic country. Therefore, the Commission of Virtue Promotion and Vice Prevention will be present as long as Islam is present on the earth. The promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, is a major pillar of any Islamic country.”* Vice in the Saudi ruling family and its bedrock religi ous establishment’s lexicon means religious freedom, free speech, equality for women, individual liberty and acceptance of non-Muslim faiths and respect for their adherents.

*http://www.mofa.gov.sa/detail.asp?InNewsItemID=35032&InTemplateKey=print

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